Bodies of Flesh, Bodies of Stone: the Religious Epigraphy of the Tang Dynasty

Seed Grant Semester Awarded
Fall
Seed Grant Award Year
2009

During the Tang Dynasty (618-907 C.E.), Buddhism became widely accepted throughout the realm. As a result, imported notions of self and body began to challenge, and sometimes merge with, traditional ideas. Nowhere was this ferment more vital than with regard to traditional ancestor worship and veneration of the dead. Two sorts of stone documents, or muzhiming - the "merit stele" and the "tomb inscriptional tablet" - document these changes. These muzhiming, which now exist in great numbers, are not only unpublished, but also unpunctuated and are sometimes worn or fragmentary. They are found in both poorly-furnished and wealthy tombs and so represent a spectrum of society. Our project will lead to international and continued research into these stones, both as documentation and as physical object, to explore changing notions of self, death, rebirth, and postmortem existence during this vital period of Chinese history.

Seed Grant Project Director(s)
Stephen R. Bokenkamp, Professor of Religious Studies, School of International Letters and Cultures / School of Historical, Philosophical, and Religious Studies
Huaiyu Chen, Assistant Professor of Religious Studies, School of Historical, Philosophical, and Religious Studies / School of International Letters and Cultures
Young-kyun Oh, Assistant Professor, School of International Letters and Cultures
Hoyt Tillman, Professor of History, School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies